A NATIONAL PRESS? THE 1847 CONVENTION AND THE NORTH STAR

INTRODUCTION

 

The 1847 convention was an eclectic convention. The issues brought before attendees ranged from the establishment of a national press, commerce with Jamaica, abolition of slavery, Black colleges and agriculture. Boston’s William C. Nell, a reporter as well as a delegate to the convention, summed up the convention’s events in this way:

Intelligent men there assembled to enquire what shall be done to extirpate Slavery from the land and elevate the character of its oppressed. Here mind grappled with mind, plans were proposed and their merits discussed; and while discouragements, reported from any locality, awakened sympathy in kindred hearts, the least dawn of success inspired all with a new zeal; pledging their every effort to hasten the day of emancipation.1

Nell was one of sixty-six convention delegates. The roll included James McCune Smith, Henry Highland Garnet, and Willis Hodges, to name a few. Also in attendance was Frederick Douglass. He was an active and vocal delegate, and his name appears often in the minutes, as he expressed strong opinions about nearly every topic addressed at the Convention.

At the time of his attendance, Douglass was at the final stages of establishing his own paper, North Star. Considering Douglass’s active role at the convention, it is not surprising that the convention and its concerns were featured prominently in the North Star. In fact, the inaugural issue of the North Star in December of 1847 contained a lengthy front-page article on the 1847 National Colored Convention, establishing a conversation between Douglass’s papers and the conventions that would follow.

THE 1847 COLORED CONVENTION IN THE NEWS

While this exhibit focuses on North Star’s coverage of the 1847 National Colored Convention, it is important to note that other newspapers, Black and white, took notice of such events and published pieces about them. Newspapers often reprinted other papers’ articles. The National Era, for example, reprinted a snippet from the Troy Telegraph, a little-known publication that has yet to be digitized. Likewise, William C. Nell’s report of the convention appeared in both The Liberator and North Star. Nineteenth-century reprinting practices extended the reach of Black voices.

News Coverage

Below is a storymap that shows which cities news about the 1847 Colored Convention at Troy. The map also shows some of the newspapers responsible for publicizing the Convention.

Click Here to View Storymap
  1. Nell, W.C. “The Colored Convention.” North Star 3 Dec. 1847.